[FONT=Arial,Verdana,Helvetica]LONDON (Daily Mail) -- Women can now find out how much time they have left to start a family with a simple blood test.
The test checks for levels of anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) which is made by the ovaries and plays a vital part in the production of the female hormone estrogen. It also helps the egg mature each month.
The level of AMH indicates how well the ovary is functioning and, as this falls with age, experts believe it is the best indicator of future fertility.
One in seven women in the UK now choose to become mothers beyond the age of 35 and this test could be vital for those wanting to delay motherhood but who do not want to miss their chance of becoming a mum.
The test, which is not yet available on the NHS, can also be useful to women wanting to know when they are likely to start the menopause. And it can help couples assess how likely they are to succeed at IVF because the higher the level of AMH the better quality the mother's eggs are likely to be.
“Experts now agree that AMH is one of the most accurate measures of a woman's fertility,” said Dr. Ellis Downes, consultant gynecologist and chief executive of GynaeCheck, who supply the test. “Similar tests already available tend to check for levels of estrogen but as these fluctuate when a woman becomes menopausal it will not be as accurate as the AMH test.”
The test kit can be ordered over the internet, but unlike similar tests available can be done at any stage in a women's cycle. The sample is then sent to a laboratory. The results will be delivered within five days and come in a traffic light form. Green means the woman's
AMH levels are normal and that provided she has no other health issues she should have no problem conceiving for the next 12 months at least.
Amber means that levels of AMH are starting to fall and she may have problems conceiving if she delays for more than a year and red means that the levels of AMH are very low and that she may be menopausal.
The test can also be used as a marker for polycystic ovary syndrome, a hormonal condition.
Taking the contraceptive Pill may lower the risk of some cancers.
Researchers who have monitored more than 17,000 women for over 30 years have found that taking the Pill may protect against cancers of the womb and ovaries.
The Oxford University researchers found that the protective effects were sustained up to 20 years after women stopped taking the Pill.
Analysis of the 844 cases of breast cancer among the women shows that the risk was about the same for Pill users and non-users. But the chances of pill users developing uterine or ovarian cancer were one tenth those of non-users. “Beneficial effects for oral contraceptives on the gynaecological cancers outweighed adverse effects,” said the researchers, even though Pill users of more than eight years were found to be six times more likely to develop cervical cancer.[/FONT]